Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing a hotly contested bid for a fourth term, tweeted Monday (April8) that the Trump administration designated Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization at his request, Los Angeles Times reported from Jerusalem.
"Thank you, my dear friend, the president of the United States, Donald Trump, for having decided to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization," he wrote in Hebrew on Twitter on Monday. "Thank you for responding to another of my important requests, which serves the interests of our countries and countries of the region."
The Los Angeles Times said Netanyahu English-language thank you note posted later omitted taking credit, but said of Trump, "Once again you are keeping the world safe from Iran aggression and terrorism."
President Donald Trump said in a statement that the "unprecedented" move "recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft."
"The IRGC is the Iranian government's primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign," Trump said.
It is the first time the United States has designated part of a foreign government a terrorist organization, rather than guerrilla groups or other more informal entities, according to AFP.
The Trump administration argues that Iran's government, which is locked in a deeply hostile standoff with top US ally Israel, cannot be trusted and should face "maximum pressure."
Addressing reporters following Trump's announcement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned all banks and business of consequences to dealing with the Revolutionary Guards from now on.
"The leaders of Iran are racketeers, not revolutionaries," Pompeo said. "Businesses and banks around the world now have a clear duty to ensure that companies with which they conduct financial transactions are not conducted with the IRGC in any material way."
"The IRGC is interwoven into the Iranian economy." The safest course is to stop doing business with the IRGC. If you do business with the IRGC you run the risk of bankrolling terrorism," said the official.
Another official said the force has "been a principal driver of violence on a vast scale for many decades" in an attempt "to reshape the Middle East in Iran's favor."
Los Angeles Times said U.S. military and intelligence officials have raised concerns that the designation may bar them from meeting foreign officials in contact with Revolutionary Guard personnel. Those concerns are one reason previous administrations did not make the move, which was considered for more than a decade.
But administration officials said Monday that exceptions would be made for U.S. personnel as needed. U.S. diplomats talk with the Taliban in Afghanistan, another group listed as a foreign terrorist organization, noted Nathan Sales, the State Department's coordinator for counter-terrorism.
Some military experts warned the decision could endanger U.S. troops, one reason for long-standing concerns at the Pentagon, the LAT said.
In response to Washington's decision, the Iranian Supreme Security Council declared the US a "terrorist government" while calling the US CENTCOM a terrorist group as well.